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Going back to film cameras, it’s beginning to feel really old-school. This particular camera which the nice people at Lomography sponsored is called the Diana F+. And it’s not alone because it brought some friends along.
We’re actually giving away the Diana F+ Deluxe Kit, which comes fully loaded with the Diana F+ and every one of its accessories including the Diana Flash, Hotshoe adaptor, Cable Release Collar and cable release, Diana 35mm Back+ 4 masks for 4 formats, Viewfinder Adaptor, Universal Viewfinder, Fisheye Viewfinder, Splitzer, Diana F+ 20mm Fisheye Lens, Diana F+ 38mm Super-Wide Lens, Diana F+ 55mm Wide-Angle Lens, Close-Up Lens, and Diana F+ 110mm Telephoto Lens. That’s a whole lot of gear!
It comes in a neat looking (very heavy) box. At this point, I’d also like to add that it makes a wonderful Christmas present. If you do want to purchase a Diana F+ Deluxe Kit from the Lomography online store, we have a 15% off coupon code for you — just enter MAKEUSEOFFAN into the discount codes field when checking out. In fact, this code is applicable to all Lomography products and is valid worldwide.
Aside from the gear listed above, the Diana F+ Deluxe Kit also comes equipped with carry cases and individual manuals for each of the lenses. In addition to that, a book entirely on the Diana F+ is also included that has sample shots and tips on how to use the camera. Unpacking this kit is an occasion in itself.
The camera is made entirely out of plastic and weights next to nothing. It’s supposed to be a fun toy. Emphasis on the ‘toy’. Even the lens is made out of plastic — and that is what gives Lomography cameras their uniqueness. Compared to today’s world of digital photography, using the Diana F+ is like time-traveling back to when photography was inexact and full of surprises. Focus is uncertain. Exposure is a guesstimate. But it’s all in the name of true lo-fi fun.
The Diana F+ is a fully manual camera. And if you have absolutely no experience with either film or manual photography, this is going to baffle you as much as it did me. But hey, even I managed to get a hang of it after a while (thanks to Lomography’s exhaustive manuals). The shutter release was another aspect of the camera that totally threw me off guard. It wasn’t at the top of the camera where I expected it to be. Instead, it was disguised in the form of a lever which was mounted right before the lens and in order to take a picture, I had to pull it.
By default, the camera uses 120 film, also known as medium format — the kind that results in square photos; but it does come with a 35mm back so you’ll be able to use ‘regular’ film as well. You’ll get between 12 and 16 exposures for each roll of 120 film. Loading the film was simple but everything after that was a complete mystery. Whether or not I shot correctly, whether the exposure was sufficient, or if I remembered to advance the film remained unknown until the roll of film returned from the photo studio. But all of that amounted to a glorious sense of occasion every time I took a photo. I had to make every one count.
Unlike modern day SLRs, the viewfinder of the Diana F+ doesn’t truly reflect what hits the lens and ends up on the film. So framing a photo up in itself is pretty inexact and requires some experimenting before getting it right. You also get focus options which you’ll have to set before taking each photo and they’re fixed at 1-2m, 2-4m, and 4m to infinity. If you really judge how far a metre is, who cares? Just make sure that your blurry pictures still come out awesome.
After about a week with the camera, I’ve become to be very familiar with it. Although it’s made out of plastic, it is pretty hardy. A lot of the worries that accompany expensive digital photography equipment doesn’t seem to crop up when using the Diana F+. I’ve also learnt to accept the camera as it is — completely inexact. And to expect the unexpected. Sometimes, we have to draw outside the lines, right?
If you’re wondering what kind of lo-fi photos the Diana F+ churns out, take a look at this gallery. Here are a few sample images.